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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Monday, February 11, 2008

How crude!

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's nutball-in-chief, is, for the umpteenth time, threatening to stop selling oil to the United States.

In Chavez's craw this time is a suit that U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil has filed against Venezuelan energy company Petroleos de Venezuela SA. If Exxon wins the suit -- which alleges Venezuela is monopolizing a multibillion dollar oil project by blocking competition from outside companies -- British and Dutch courts could render a judgment of up to $12 billion against Chavez's government.

"If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we're going to harm you," Chavez said, ostensibly to President Bush, during his weekly radio and television program on Sunday. "Do you know how? We aren't going to send oil to the United States."

What Mr. Chavez forgets, or just foolishly ignores, is that the United States is Venezuela's biggest oil client. If he stops doing business with us, he'll lose a helluva lot more than $12 billion.

But if he wants to cut off his nose to spite his face, who are we to stop him? Put another way, he shouldn't expect us to stop the bleeding -- literally or figuratively



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